Born in Orléans, Durand studied mathematics, music education and piano in Paris, then composition with Brian Ferneyhough in Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany (1981–84), and at Stony Brook University, New York, with Arel and Semegen (1984–86) (Weid 2001). Between 1979 and 1984 he attended masterclasses by György Ligeti and Luciano Berio at the Centre Acanthes in Aix-en-Provence, and with Luigi Nono at the Freiburg Musikhochschule. In 1981–82 he was awarded a scholarship from the DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service) (Bernard 2006, 247–48). In 1982 he received a Darmstadt Institute Scholarship for his String Trio, and in 1983 his piano piece …d’asiles déchirés… was awarded a prize at the Third International K.H. Stockhausen Composition Competition in Brescia, Italy. He left Europe in 1984 to pursue a Ph.D. in Composition (awarded in 1988) at Stony Brook University (USA), where he studied composition with Bülent Arel and electronic music with Daria Semegen.
Durand was awarded scholarships from the Fulbright Foundation (1984) and from the French Ministry of Culture (1985). He received the Kranichsteiner Musikpreis from the Darmstadt Internationalen Ferienkurse in 1990. He was appointed assistant professor in composition at the University of Washington in 1991, and was invited to teach at the University of California, San Diego in the autumn of 1992 (Weid 2001). During the 1980-90s, he was regularly invited as a lecturer at the summer courses at Darmstädter Ferienkurse. He taught at the annual mastercourse at the Fondation Royaumont in France in 1993. He is currently Professor of Composition (Anon. n.d.), and since 2002 Associate Director of the University of Washington School of Music (Anon. n.d.).
In parallel to his activity as composer, Durand designs and manufactures high-end tonearms for record players. He founded the company Durand Tonearms LLC in 2009.